Posted on Thursday, 10ᵗʰ December, 2020
Telehealth allows people with access to the internet via a device such as a computer, laptop, tablet or even a smartphone to attend an appointment with medical and clinical providers without leaving their home - or even their bed.
While it had some use prior to COVID-19, this year has seen an unprecedented uptake of technology. The impact of COVID-19 on clinical service provision to those with dysphagia has been significant.
We recently attended a Lantern Project seminar where several service providers shared their experience of having to use telehealth to meet with Aged Care residents and what the surprising benefits of online appointments have been.
Trials are now showing evidence that video conference dietitian-delivered interventions are superior to ‘usual care’ for diet adherence, increased physical activity and body weight as well as other health metrics.
Speech Pathologist Grace Fryga from Plena Healthcare (previously Loqui Speech Pathology) gave an overview of how providing telehealth services to their clients had created benefits for all parties involved.
In addition to the issues telehealth solves by keeping people safe, Grace listed the following positive outcomes:
Getting to and from appointments can be tiring for the elderly and those with complications from dysphagia and dementia, so the lack of disruption to the person’s regular routine has been a huge plus.
Grace noted appointment attendance has increased over the course of 2020, not decreased, which means more people have received more timely attention and dietary changes can be quickly implemented.
In addition to this, telehealth has provided the opportunity for more timely appointments, so people can be assessed, and changes can be made to their meal texture modifications in real time, rather than having to wait for transport, support and appointments for all to be arranged.
One of the best outcomes for a patient is to have all their support working together for the right outcomes. What telehealth has done has allowed multiple attendees at a single appointment, so everyone understands what changes need to be implemented in a person's diet, why, and what needs to be done to make it happen.
Family members, other clinical support and Chefs can all attend the appointment and agree on the actions each need to take in order to meet the needs of the patient.
Bernadette Dutton, Speech Pathologist from Plena Healthcare went on to say:
“Our speech pathologists do involve the catering teams. We have booked sessions with Chefs and care teams. We had one facility where the Speech Pathologist was linking online with the family and Chef. This resulted in improved meal consistency of minced and moist for some residents who were previously receiving pureed meals.”
Lorretta Reiken from Dignity in Dining welcomes the increase in telehealth as a way forward in Aged Care, saying “What an opportunity [it is] to assist with learnings with Chefs, cooks and kitchen staff in Aged Care settings.”
For clinical staff, telehealth has been a welcome advance in their efforts to help those with dysphagia be prescribed the correct texture modification, improving health and wellbeing with the minimum disruption to residents of Aged Care facilities.
For Aged Care Chefs, being involved with residents’ texture modification needs at the clinical level gives the opportunity for deeper collaboration and understanding. Meals can be planned and served at the correct texture level, helping to improve food intake.
What has your experience been with telehealth this year - we are looking for examples and stories from Aged Care Chefs and kitchen staff.
Email us your story at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be included in a future newsletter.